By Samantha Singson
NEW YORK, NY, October 29, 2009 (C-FAM) – At a United Nations (UN) press conference Wednesday a group of conservative policy experts put forth an agenda for UN reform including alternatives to major UN programs on social issues and methods for making the UN more accountable to member states. The event featured authors of the new book ConUNdrum: The Limits of the United Nations and the Search for Alternatives, published by the Washington DC-based Heritage Foundation.
Ambassador John Bolton, former United States Ambassador to the UN and senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, praised the book's “data-driven, empirical approach, which proposes specific changes and alternatives.” Bolton highlighted the resistance to reforming the UN system from bureaucrats and member states alike. Bolton said his idea of the most practical path toward UN reform, would be a change in how the organization is funded, proposing voluntary funding instead of reliance on assessments. He said this would make the UN more responsive and accountable.
Ambassador Berenado Vunibobo from Fiji commended the book for asking “timely” questions, particularly on the role of the UN in the debate on social issues. Ambassador Vunibobo stated, “fundamental values seem to be under attack” at the UN and that for “small countries who are still rooted in traditional values, the debate at the UN can be truly frightening.” Vunibobo highlighted in particular the ease with which negotiated language contained in treaties is “reinterpreted by some UN bureaucrats to suit their own purposes.”
Austin Ruse, President of C-FAM, the event’s sponsor and publisher of the Friday Fax, opened the press conference, which was held at the UN Correspondent’s Association (UNCA), by calling the UN “broken,” and pointed to the disconnect between the UN bureaucracy and member states in the UN's decision making bodies.
Brett Schaefer, of the Heritage Foundation and the book’s editor explained that the purpose of the book was not only to point out the UN's problems or take a “condemnatory” view of the UN, but to take the opportunity to investigate where the UN is meeting its goals and where it is not. Schaefer called on the international community to undertake reform to help the UN “live up to its expectations.”
Dr. Susan Yoshihara, vice president for research at C-FAM and a contributor to the book, gave concrete examples of a “stratagem” whereby bureaucrats use innocuous procedural mechanisms to promote radical interpretations of human rights treaties. Yoshihara warned that this coupled with a “rights-based approach” to humanitarian action was undermining the credibility of premier UN agencies like the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the World Health Organization (WHO). Among her recommendations for reform, Yoshihara called on states to limit the role of special interests by holding treaty monitoring bodies more accountable and focusing on bilateral rather than expert-driven, top-down approaches to humanitarian aid.
Dr. Edward Fuelner, President of the Heritage Foundation, said that “whether one supports or opposes the activities of the UN, critical analysis on what could be done better for the people of the world always needs to be examined.”